Thursday, 30 April 2009

Character Spotlight ~ Julie Lessman's John Brady & Elizabeth O'Connor and signed giveaway

Today the spotlight shines on....................Elizabeth O' Connor & John Morrison Brady

If you read historical romance you will know the name of Julie Lessman and her Daughters of Boston series. The third book in this wonderful series, A Passion Denied, has just released and my copy arrived this morning and I can't wait to read Lizzie and Brady's story. I know I am in for a treat :)

And Julie has a treat for you all here too, a spotlight on the characters that are Lizzie and Brady. I've had a soft spot for Brady since he first appeared in A Passion Most Pure and even more so now!


Brief physical description of your main characters:

Lizzie O’Connor (formerly Elizabeth or Beth), is a shy and gentle bookworm bent on fairytale romance. She is willowy and graceful at five-foot-seven, and has near-violet eyes and a fashionable bob that is all the rage in The Roaring Twenties. Her chestnut hair is worn in a wavy shingle haircut, falling just below her ears and shows off her heart-shaped face and slender neck to good advantage. She is delicate and slim, with soft, subtle curves in all the right places.

John Morrison Brady, Collin’s best friend from WWI and now his business partner, is six-foot-three and very muscular as he works out at a boxing gym and play sports. He has cinnamon-brown hair and brown eyes that appear almost hazel in the sunlight. He has a dry wit and a deep-calm personality.

Actor/famous person who might resemble her/him

For Brady, definitely Michael Vartan, the lead in Never Been Kissed with Drew Barrymore. Here’s the pic I like the most because he has that deadly-calm look in his eyes that Brady so often wears. Hubba-hubba!

For Lizzie, I think Revell did a WONDERFUL job with the cover model – she is exactly as I pictured her, but if I had to pick a movie star, I would go with Emmy Rossen.

Strengths and weaknesses

Lizzie’s strengths are her passion for literature and her passion for God, her gentle nature, her love of children, and her flair for drama when it comes to story time at the bookstore where she works. Her weaknesses are also tied to her love for literature, which translates into escapism and her obsession with fairy-tale romance and finding the man of her dreams, which in her case with Brady, sets her up for major disappointment.

Brady’s strengths are his deeply-rooted passion and commitment to God, his dry wit, his fierce loyalty to those he loves and his calm and inexhaustible patience. His weaknesses are part of the story and something I cannot divulge, but let’s just say that not only does he have a hidden temper, but that “still waters run deep.” He is also a man who can forgive any wrong of anyone … except himself.

Quirk (if any)

Lizzie’s quirk is that she gnaws on her lips a lot when she’s shy or frustrated, which in this book, with Brady, is pretty much ALL the time!

Brady’s quirk is he loves to mess with machinery in the print shop, so he is always covered with ink, head to toe.

Your inspiration for the characters

Well, when I started writing this series, I actually modeled each character after an aspect of myself. For instance, Faith from A Passion Most Pure is my spiritual self, Charity from A Passion Redeemed is my carnal self (before God), and Lizzie in A Passion Denied is my dreamer self. Lizzie is a bookworm bent on fairytale romance, just like I used to be as a little girl, sneaking downstairs to watch romantic movies after my parents went to bed. In her story, Lizzie has to learn (just like I did) that true romance, the kind that really satisfies, comes from following God’s precepts and not the world’s.

As far as Brady, I have always seen him as a strong, silent Billy Graham-type of man who is a virtual Rock of Gibraltar when it comes to God. But as we all know, the only “Rock of Gibraltar” that exists on this planet is located south of Spain! Which underscores a line in A Passion Denied that says, “We’re nothing more than Christians … human beings with clay feet and a strong God.”

Background to the story:

When Brady first appeared in A Passion Most Pure as Collin’s trench mate in WWI, I liked him so much, that I wanted him to be a permanent character in the series. So it was an easy fix to have him and Collin establish a partnership in the printing business, the same business both Collin and Brady’s fathers were in. As far as Lizzie, I thought it would be fun to have her develop a crush on Brady in book 2, A Passion Redeemed, which then sowed the seeds for their romance in A Passion Denied.

Ironically, the original manuscript depicted much darker secrets for Brady that were very disturbing and, I thought, very necessary. But, Revell did not agree and had me rewrite the plot to lighten his secrets. In retrospect, I now feel that Revell was absolutely correct in their original call, and I am grateful for my editor’s wisdom in this matter.

Photograph of press by Eamonn McCabe

Fabulous, Julie ~ as always! Thanks so much for sharing an inside look into your characters and for providing a terrific giveaway :)

On Monday, the spotlight turns on Nicole Baart's Abigail and Hailey Bennett from one of the most poignant and heart wrenching stories I have had the privilege to read. Don't miss it!

Relz Reviewz Extras

Reviews of A Passion Most Pure and A Passion Redeemed

Interview with Julie

Visit Julie's website

Buy Julie's books at Amazon or Koorong

Open Giveaway

Julie is graciously giving away a personalised and signed copy of the winner's choice of one of her books! Doesn't get much better than that! To enter:~

Post a comment by Sunday 10th May, 2009 telling me which of Julie's three books you would love to win together with contact details.

CFBA Blog Tour of Nothing But Trouble by Susan May Warren

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Nothing But Trouble

Tyndale House Publishers (May 1, 2009)


Susan May Warren


Susan grew up in Wayzata, a suburb of Minneapolis, and became an avid camper from an early age. Her favorite fir-lined spot is the north shore of Minnesota is where she met her husband, honeymooned and dreamed of living.

The north woods easily became the foundation for her first series, The Deep Haven series, based on a little tourist town along the shores of Lake Superior. Her first full-length book, Happily Ever After, became a Christy Award Finalist published in 2004 with Tyndale/Heartquest.

As an award winning author, Susan returned home in 2004, to her native Minnesota after serving for eight years with her husband and four children as missionaries with SEND International in Far East Russia. She now writes full time from Minnesota's north woods and the beautiful town that she always dreamed of living in.

You can sample a chapter of each and every one of Susan's novels, on her website, HERE.


PJ Sugar knows three things for sure:

1) After traveling the country for ten years hoping to shake free from the trail of disaster that's become her life, she needs a fresh start.

2) The last person she wants to see when she heads home for her sister's wedding is Boone-her former flame and the reason she left town.

3) Her best friend's husband absolutely did not commit the first murder Kellogg, Minnesota, has seen in more than a decade.

What PJ doesn't know is that when she starts digging for evidence, she'll uncover much more than she bargained for-a deadly conspiracy, a knack for investigation, and maybe, just maybe, that fresh start she's been longing for.

It's not fair to say that trouble happens every time PJ Sugar is around, but it feels that way when she returns to her home town, looking for a fresh start. Within a week, her former teacher is murdered and her best friend's husband is arrested as the number-one suspect. Although the police detective investigating the murder—who also happens to be PJ's former flame—is convinced it's an open-and-shut case, PJ's not so sure. She begins digging for clues in an effort to clear her friend’s husband and ends up reigniting old passions, uncovering an international conspiracy, and solving a murder along the way. She also discovers that maybe God can use a woman who never seems to get it right

If you would like to read the first chapter of Nothing But Trouble, go HERE

Rel:~ You can't go wrong with a book from Susie May and this one is no exception! Check out my review for Nothing But Trouble at this weekend and later in the week, here at Relz Reviewz!

Releasing July, 2009 from Harvest House

What do you think of these book releasing in July from Harvest House?

Click on the links for more :)

Ransome's Honor by Kaye Dacus

The Ransome Trilogy from exciting new author Kaye Dacus combines the wit, romance, and social commentary of Jane Austen with the sea-faring adventure of Horatio Hornblower.

July 1814. The war with France has ended, and Captain William Ransome, known for never letting women aboard his ship, has returned to Portsmouth, England. Julia Witherington, considered an old-maid at 29, discovers that she must marry immediately to receive a large dowry. Julia knows that the only man she doesn’t want to marry is William Ransome. And the only man her father will approve of is…William Ransome.

When the couple strikes a financial deal to feign marriage for one year, the adventure begins. These stubborn people face humorous and hard situations that reveal what else they have in common—a growing affection for one another. This intriguing tale of faith and loyalty is a wonderful new offering for readers of all genres.

Outlaw's Bride by Lori Copeland

Bestselling author Lori Copeland weaves together elements of a wonderful, classic Western romance with themes of forgiveness and grace.

Falsely convicted of bank robbery, drifter Johnny McAllister is sent to a rehabilitation program in the home of a California judge. When he goes to Judge McMann’s home, his aim is to be a model prisoner, hoping to be released early and return to his life's mission: to kill the man who wiped out his family 15 years before. He’s planned for everything…except his encounter with Ragan, the beautiful and kind housekeeper, and with the generous folks of Barren Flats. But can Johnny let go of his anger and embrace a new life? One that would include Ragan as his bride?

This tender story reveals how even the hard law of the land doesn’t stand a chance when God’s mercy and true love come to reside in a heart.

Formerly titled The Bride of Johnny McAllister, rewritten for the inspirational market.

Aurora by Jane Kirkpatrick ~ Tracy's Take

What is it about?

‘Aurora: An American Experience in Quilt, Community, and Craft’ details the communal society of Dr Wilhelm Keil, from its early beginnings in Bethel, Missouri to its move to Aurora, Oregon. Dr Keil founded his community based on the fundamental truth of Christianity to “love one another” and to make another’s life better than one’s own. Jane Kirkpatrick artfully describes the early days of the Aurora colonists, from the initial scouting trip to the challenges of beginning a new settlement. Throughout the book are stunning photographs of the hand-pieced and hand-quilted quilts, early tools and implements, furniture and buildings. Jane allows the quilts and other hand-hewn artifacts to tell the stories of those who created them and put them to use.

What I thought:

Jane Kirkpatrick has created a true object of beauty with ‘Aurora: An American Experience in Quilt, Community, and Craft’. The story of the Aurora colonists is fascinating and Jane encompasses the many facets of colony life as though piecing a quilt, herself. Throughout the book, readers will learn about the gifted artisans of Aurora and how their relationships with one another, their faith and with their work enabled them to live harmoniously for so long. True tales of individuals interwoven with photographs of early life in the colony and their stunning quilts will delight and inspire a yearning for personally creating useful objects that incorporate true beauty.

Throughout this stunning book I was reminded that hard work has great value and that the results can be impressive and long lasting. Long lasting enough to be passed down to generations, providing a legacy that will inspire into the future.

Guest reviewer:~ my friend Tracy from Beyond My Picket Fence

Rel:~ Now Tracy knows quilts, having almost finished one herself ~ check it out here! Quilting is way beyond me so I am very proud of my friend :)

The sister book to Aurora is Jane Kirkpatrick's novel, A Flickering Light. You can read about it below but check back next week for Tracy's review and an Aussie giveaway ~ I know Jane is one of her favourite authors!

Returning to her Midwest roots, award-winning author Jane Kirkpatrick draws a page from her grandmother’s photo album to capture the interplay between shadow and light, temptation and faith that marks a woman’s pursuit of her dreams.

She took exquisite photographs,

but her heart was the true image exposed.

Fifteen-year-old Jessie Ann Gaebele loves nothing more than capturing a gorgeous Minnesota landscape when the sunlight casts its most mesmerizing shadows. So when F.J. Bauer hires her in 1907 to assist in his studio and darkroom, her dreams for a career in photography appear to find root in reality.

With the infamous hazards of the explosive powder used for lighting and the toxic darkroom chemicals, photography is considered a man’s profession. Yet Jessie shows remarkable talent in both the artistry and business of running a studio. She proves less skillful, however, at managing her growing attraction to the very married Mr. Bauer.

This luminous coming-of-age tale deftly exposes the intricate shadows that play across every dream worth pursuing—and the irresistible light that beckons the dreamer on.

Relz Reviewz Extras

Visit Jane's website and blog

Buy Aurora or A Flickering Light

Check back next week for Tracy's review of A Flickering Light

Final cover for Tamara Leigh's Leaving Carolina

Those of you who have been keeping tabs on Tamara Leigh's upcoming novel, Leaving Carolina, the first in her Southern Discomfort series, will know it has been through some transition with covers. Here's a look at the final cover which I love! How about you?

Having had the privilege of a sneak peek at this book, I know you are going to adore it! Vintage Tamara :)

Look for it in September, 2009 from Waterbrook Multnomah.

Piper Wick left her hometown of Pickwick, North Carolina, twelve years ago, shook the dust off her feet, ditched her drawl and her family name, and made a new life for herself as a high-powered public relations consultant in LA. She’s even “engaged to be engaged” to the picture-perfect U.S. Congressman Grant Spangler.

Now all of Piper’s hard-won happiness is threatened by a reclusive uncle’s bout of conscience. In the wake of a health scare, Uncle Obadiah Pickwick has decided to change his will, leaving money to make amends for four generations’ worth of family misdeeds. But that will reveal all the Pickwicks’ secrets, including Piper’s.

Though Piper arrives in Pickwick primed for battle, she is unprepared for Uncle Obe’s rugged, blue-eyed gardener. So just who is Axel Smith? Why does he think making amends is more than just making restitution? And why, oh why, can’t she stay on task? With the Lord’s help, Piper is about to discover that although good PR might smooth things over, only the truth will set her free.

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Special Character Spotlight ~ Nicole Young's Tish Amble

Today the spotlight shines on..............................................................Tish Amble

Nicole Young has brilliantly combined her love of renovation and writing in her debut series, the Patricia Amble Mysteries. I loved the first two books in the series and will soon let you know my thoughts on the third, the just released Kiss Me If You Dare.

Tish is a fabulous character, searching for redemption from her past while trying to avoid the dead bodies that seem to plague her renovation projects.

Enjoy this insider's look at Tish:~

Brief physical description

Tish Amble is one of those women who is beautiful without knowing it. Frizzy ends add body to shoulder length auburn hair. Her eyes are a shiny green when the sun hits them, but she’s completely unaware of their glow and considers them as bland as pea soup. She’s proud of being thin and toned, but dresses herself in baggy hand-me-downs. She has no idea that a natty potato sack would look good on her.

The one man Tish can't get off her mind is would-have-been fiancé Brad Walters. A small-town police officer, Brad is tall, muscular, and full of love and laughter. Tish especially loves his soft brown eyes that crinkle in the corners when he smiles. He adds stability to her sometimes chaotic life, unless he's the one driving her crazy. There just isn't an actor out there who does Brad justice. Can anyone picture Vin Diesel with hair?

Rel: Ooo, I really like Vin as Brad - hair or no hair!!

Actor/famous person who might resemble her

Drew Barrymore comes to mind when I’m thinking of the lovely Patricia Louise Amble. The actress and the character share that endearing, and annoying, insecurity suffered by beautiful women.

Strengths and weaknesses

Tish is stronger than she realizes. She survived a tragic childhood with pizzazz and even found the silver lining in her short stint in prison. But the savvy home renovator spends too much energy condemning herself for things out of her control.

Quirk (if any)

Tish has a rough time making good choices. Raised by an alcoholic grandfather and his domineering wife, the heroine has no good example with which to gauge her decisions. What to most people seems like a no-brainer leaves Tish baffled and confused.

Your inspiration for the character

I drew from the well of personal experience as I developed the character of Patricia Amble, especially when it came to her career choice. I love old homes and wanted to share that passion in my first mystery series. Reaching back to my first home renovation project, I set the turn-of-the-century home, purchased by Tish Amble in Love Me If You Must, in the fictitious town of Rawlings, Michigan. She moves to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in Kill Me If You Can, living in a log cabin that resembles one I once called home.

In Kiss Me If You Dare, Tish has a row of bungalows, inspired by those in San Juan Capistrano, California, a favorite vacation destination, to restore for a college project.

Background to Kiss Me If You Dare

Renovator-on-the-run Patricia Amble hides out in sunny California as she waits for the okay to return home to Michigan. Orphaned at age seven when her mother crashed her pick-up into the old quarry, Tish already had enough drama to last a lifetime. But with nothing better to do while she endures the silence of her would-have-been fiancé Brad Walters, Tish tries again to complete her college degree. Her last shot at a Bachelor of Arts ended when she landed in prison. But that was more than a decade ago. California brings a fresh start. So why does it seem like the trail of dead bodies plaguing her life has followed her from the north woods to the west coast?

Visit the author’s web page for more information:

Thanks Nicole :) Appreciate the insight and it makes me look forward to reading Tish's final story even more!

Relz Reviewz Extras

Reviews of Love Me If You Must and Kill Me If You Can

Interview with Nicole

Visit Nicole's website and blog

Buy Nicole's books at Amazon or Koorong

Monday, 27 April 2009

Character Spotlight ~ Sibella Giorello's Raleigh Harmon with US giveaway

Today the spotlight shines on.............................................................Raleigh Harmon

Sibella Giorello's debut novel, The Stones Cry Out received a Christy award and her sequel, The Rivers Run Dry, continues the gritty tale of geologist turned FBI agent, Raleigh Harmon.

Enjoy the behind the scenes look from Sibella:~

Brief physical description

In two words: Pared down. Raleigh Harmon stands 5-foot, 8-inches. Her brown hair looks chestnut in the sun, and her hazel eyes can appear green or brown, depending on her c
urrent mood. She doesn't wear anything fussy. Her clothes are understated. Accessories are very simple: earrings and her Mt. Holyoke class ring. She is leanly built, thin but muscular.

Actor/famous person who might resemble her

Don't you hate it when people say, "I don't watch television"? It brings me no pleasure admitting this is my situation. Even worse, as the mother of boys, I rarely get to see a movie unless it bombs will be detonated and entire limbs blown off. If there's a girl in these over-the-top enterprises, she's either a wicked villainess or a helpless victim. In other words, nothing like Raleigh Harmon. However, back when I was captain of my viewing choices....I saw Renee Russo in several movies. She is hands-down the closest resemblance to Raleigh, particularly when she played a cop in Lethal Weapon 3 with Mel Gibson. Not only are their physical characteristics similar, but Russo often manages to portray a tender-tough temperament on screen, something that's very close to Raleigh's personality.

Strengths and weaknesses

Raleigh's physically strong, smart, and very competent -- and this is her weakness. Because she can handle so much, she often forgets to ask God for help. She's usually on her knees only after trying to muscle her way through some ordeal, finding herself at a brick wall. On a lighter note, she has a weakness for great food, and when she can't get great food, she heartily enjoys a greasy fast food burger with a Coke (never, ever Pepsi). She is always hungry and has the metabolism of a hummingbird.

Quirk (if any)

She habitually addresses anyone older than herself as "ma'am" and "sir." It's a southern thing.

Your inspiration for the character

When I sta
rted researching this series, I met a female FBI agent in the Richmond field office. If anybody inspired this character, it's this gal Katie Land. She is not Raleigh exactly, but the two of them could be sisters or best friends. Katie Land weighs 100 pounds dripping wet, but every man in the FBI wants her covering their back. When she sends the bad guys to jail, they sometimes fall in love with her. She gets phone calls on Mother's Day from various inmates in prison telling her, "If you'd been my mother, I probably wouldn't be in this place." She never coddles them either. She tells them straight up what's wrong with them. She's an awesome person.

Background to the story

About ten years ago, I learned about the FBI's forensic geology unit. It gave me the idea for a mystery; I could see the whole thing very clearly. But at the time, I wa
s pregnant with my first child and my dad was suddenly diagnosed with cancer. On top of this, I was working part-time at a newspaper. My husband, aka The Roman Saint, was totally supportive of the book project and never asked me to stop writing. But I could really sense God telling me to set aside this exciting project and concentrate on the people who needed me. It was the right decision, but it wasn't easy. I felt such passion and drive about the book, and I was afraid of never picking it up again. As writers, we're often afraid to "go fallow" for a season, but sometimes God asks for just that. When making that decision, it helps to recall the examples of abundant sacrifice in the Bible -- Abraham and Isaac most famously -- but also Ruth and Naomi, Joseph and his brothers. The list goes on.

For nearly three years, I didn't work on the book at all -- physically. But I kept praying, and I kept coming across the scripture, "He who waters will himself be watered" (Proverbs 11:25). I knew God would be faithful to the dream he'd placed in my heart, but it wouldn't be according to my time! So we raised our son, had another baby, and took care of my father until the very end. I served my family with all my heart. Additionally, all four of our parents passed away suddenly during this time. Devastating. Difficult. Pain beyond measure. But eventually the storm clouds cleared, and there was the way back to the book again. It was waiting, patiently.

From that point on, God's fingerprints were all over everything. I'm now writing the fourth book in the series, due out 2010. The moral to this story? God is faithful, if we're obedient.

Sibella ~ such a sad yet encouraging story behind your novels. Thanks for sharing it :)

On Thursday, I will be spotlighting Julie Lessman's Brady and Lizzie from her highly anticipated, A Passion Denied. Don't miss the insight and your chance to win a book from Julie.

Relz Reviewz Extras

Visit Sibella's website

Buy Sibella's books at Amazon or Koorong

US Giveaway

Thanks to Thomas Nelson, I have a copy of The Rivers Run Dry to give away to a reader with a US mailing address.

To enter, post a comment by Sunday 3rd May, 2009 telling me your favourite female law enforcement officer from TV or the movies!

The winners are....

I'm back home after our women's retreat ~ exhausted but thankful the weekend was such a blessing to the women who attended!

Now to my winners for this week:~

Signed set of Amy Wallace's Defenders of Hope series ~ Reading Robin

Copy of Enduring Justice ~ southeastcountrywife

Signed copy of Ready-Made Family ~ MJ

Congratulations :) An email is on its way to you.

Friday, 24 April 2009

Book Trailer for Nicole Baart's The Moment Between

I'm off to my church's women's retreat tonight for the weekend! Looking forward to it :) I'll see you back here on Monday.

I will leave you with the trailer for one of the most amazing books I have ever read,
The Moment Between by Nicole Baart ~ it is an evocative and heart wrenching read of the love between two sisters, a love that is as beautiful as it is dangerous.

My review will be up at soon and then on my blog ~ trust me, you will want to read this book!

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Character Spotlight ~ Robin Lee Hatcher's Guinevere Arlington & Morgan McKinley

Today the spotlight shines on......................... Guinevere Arlington & Morgan McKinley

Robin Lee Hatcher has been writing prolifically for many years and hasn't for a second, lost her touch! Whether it is historical romance, contemporary women's fiction or even, no doubt a shopping list, Robin is an expert wordsmith and her characters shine! Enjoy an insider look into her latest release, the first in her Sisters of Bethlehem Springs series, A Vote of Confidence.

Thanks Robin:~

Brief physical description

Gwen Arlington is unusually beautiful and very much a woman with all the
requisite curves. She has long blond hair and blue eyes.

Morgan McKinley is tall, handsome, with black hair and brown eyes.

If I were casting a movie of my book, Gwen would be played by Reese Witherspoon and Morgan would be played by Richard Armitage.

Strengths and weaknesses

Gwen is educated, intelligent, and fiercely independent. She has learned to guard that independence and refuses to become a silent, pret
ty decoration on the arm of a man who only wants to show her off to others. She has a deep faith in God, but she needs to learn to trust Him with all parts of her life.

Morgan is wealthy, compassionate, and determined. He's had his heart broken by a woman who w
as only after his fortune and doesn't mean to let that happen again.

Your inspiration for the character

My characters are such individual people in my minds, I can't say they ar
e inspired by anyone except who they are. Gwen and Morgan simply walked into my mind and onto the page as unique individuals.

to the story

When Gwen Arlington was two years old, her mother left her husband and went to live with
her parents in New Jersey, taking Gwen with her and leaving behind Gwen's fraternal twin sister, Cleo. Once Gwen was an adult, she returned to Idaho to visit her father and sister and decided to stay. She writes for the newspaper and gives piano lessons. She is happy and content. But when the only candidate running for mayor is the town drunk, Gwen is challenged to run for office herself. With the encouragement of her father and sister, she decides to do it. She loves Bethlehem Springs and wants to serve the people of the town.

Morgan McKinley came to Idaho to build a health resort at the hot spr
ings north of Bethlehem Springs. Although he bought a home in town, he's rarely been seen for the past year. But he keeps running into roadblocks by unhelpful town and county officials, and when he learns there is only one unpopular person running for mayor, he decides that he'll run for office and push through his own agenda for change. Both Morgan and Gwen are surprised to learn they have a real opponent in the race for mayor and both are determined to win. But eventually they begin to wonder if they would make better allies than adversaries.

Just lovely, Robin! I will quite enjoy imagining Richa
rd as Morgan when I read this story ~ LOL! He is one of my favourite actors.

Next Monday the spotlight shines on Sibella Giorello's Raleigh Harm
on from The Rivers Run Dry ~ really interesting!

Relz Reviewz Extras

Reviews of Wagered Heart and When Love Blooms

Interview with Robin

Visit Robin's website and blog

Buy Robin's books at Amazon or Koorong

Book Trailer for B J Hoff's American Anthem

The amazing Kelli Standish and her Pulse Point Design team do fantastic work!

Check out their latest achievement for BJ Hoff's epic story, American Anthem

combining three of her previous books in one volume. Available now from Harvest House

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

A Gift of Grace by Amy Clipston ~ Tracy's Take

What is it about?

Rebecca Kauffman’s sister, Grace, had left the Amish church many years ago to pursue an ‘English’ life in Virginia Beach with her fancy husband. Grace & her husband’s accidental death not only turn their daughter’s lives upside down, but Rebecca and her husband Daniel’s as well. Suddenly the two modern teens find themselves living in a Plain home without the comfort of their parents. Rebecca and her husband Daniel find themselves dealing with teenage temper tantrums, deep grief and the complications of melding two very different lifestyles.

While Jessica struggles to adjust to the changes, her sister Lindsay is caught between loyalty to her sister and a desire to be close to her mother’s childhood roots. When the district Bishop pays Daniel a visit regarding Jessica’s behaviour things begin to unravel in the Kauffman home.

What I thought:

Amy Clipston is a newcomer to the Amish fiction scene and my, what a grand entrance she has made! ‘A Gift of Grace’ is the first in the Kauffman Amish Bakery series and is a fine indicator of high quality fiction to come.

‘A Gift of Grace’ begins an intriguing and heartfelt journey with Rebecca and Daniel Kauffman and their nieces, Jessica and Lindsay. The characters are easy to relate to and I found myself quickly invested in their story. Jessica and Lindsay’s grief is palpable and their reactions, though as different as night and day, are realistic and uncontrived. I felt Rebecca’s fears and desires as keenly as if they were my very own and my heart broke with Jessica as she struggled with the depth of her guilt and grief. Amy Clipston skillfully engages the reader with such strength that one finds it almost impossible to put the book down until it is finished. I was thrilled with the added treasure of traditional Amish recipes scattered through the pages.

Amy has attained the perfect balance of resolving the issues introduced in this book, and leaving just enough dangling to entice the reader on to the next book. I am certain that fellow lovers of Amish fiction will eagerly embrace Amy Clipston as an author to admire and will readily make a place for her on their bookshelves.

Guest reviewer: My friend Tracy and lover of all things Amish, from Beyond My Picket Fence

Relz Reviewz Extras

Visit Amy's website and blog

Buy Amy's book at Amazon or Koorong

Check back soon for an exclusive interview with Amy

Monday, 20 April 2009

Character Spotlight ~ Patti Lacy's Sally Stevens

Today the spotlight shines on............................................................Sally Stevens

Patti Lacy has written another thought provoking novel in recently released, What the Bayou Saw, tackling racism and journeying to healing and restoration. I hope you enjoy this behind the scenes look.

Thanks, Patti:~

Brief physical description:

Sally’s hair has been bleached so many times, it’s hard to call it blond, brunette, or red. She wears it in the shag style, so popular in the 1970s. College tennis and the joy of jogging kept Sally in shape for decades, but her propensity for nervous nibbling has added a few pounds (okay, twenty or thirty). Luckily, Sally carries her weight well on a five foot, eight-inch frame.

Actor/famous person who might resemble her:

A taller, less blond Sally Struthers.

Strengths and weaknesses:

Women flock to Sally and her chatty, easygoing ways. Students love her, too. Somehow Sally draws out even the most reticent folks and finds a way to politely button the lips of motormouths.

The worst thing her critics can say is that she’s too nice, too chatty, a bit spacy.

What they don’t know is that Sally’s smile masks a past buried deep in the sludge of a Louisiana bayou. For several decades, Sally has done everything necessary to keep that past hidden, including lying to anybody and everybody. The truth is, nobody really knows Sally—not her Bible study “girls,” not her precious kids, not even her loyal husband Sam. Will she have the courage to dredge up her past—and make atonement for acts of betrayal and cowardice?

Background to the story

Segregation and a chain link fence separated twelve-year-old Sally Flowers from her best friend, Ella Ward. Yet a brutal assault bound them together. Forever.

Thirty-eight years later, Sally, a middle-aged Midwestern instructor, dredges up childhood secrets long buried beneath the waters of a Louisiana bayou in order to help her student, who has also been raped. Fragments of spirituals, gospel songs, and images of a Katrina-ravaged New Orleans are woven into the story.

Thank you, Patti ~ another moving story from you, I see! Thanks for the extra insight into Sally :)

On Thursday, I will be spotlighting Robin Lee Hatcher's Guinevere Arlington & Morgan McKinley from A Vote of Confidence ~ can't wait!

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Character spotlight on Patti's Mary Freeman

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CFBA Blog Tour of The Reluctant Cowgirl by Christine Lynxwiler

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

The Reluctant Cowgirl

Barbour Publishing (April 2009)


Christine Lynxwiler


Christine lives with her husband and two precious daughters in the foothills of the beautiful Ozark Mountains in her home state of Arkansas. Her greatest earthly joy is her family and, aside from doing God’s will, spending time with them is her top priority.

She recently took a break from writing romance to pen a Christmas story with a twist. Her Mom Lit novella, My True Love Gave to Me, is part of a 2 in 1 anthology from Barbour entitled All Jingled Out. It’s also included in Simply Christmas, a 4 in 1 Barbour anthology. One of my holiday highlights was seeing Simply Christmas at Sam’s Club a few weeks before Christmas.

She has written two other novellas, both romance, which are included in Barbour anthologies, City Dreams, and Prairie County Fair and a serial for the Heartsong Presents book club newsletter – The Carousel Horse. The Carousel Horse can be read in its entirety on the Heartsong website, and you can read excerpts from all of her other books on her website, HERE

In 2003, Christine was honored by being voted #2 Favorite New Author by the Heartsong Presents Book Club members!


Actress Crystal McCord gave up the closeness of her big family in order to make a name for herself on the New York City stage. But when life in the Big Apple turns sour, she follows a country road back to her parents Arkansas ranch.

The last thing she expects to find in cowboy country is a new leading man. Still, she can't help but imagine handsome rancher Jeremy Buchanan in the role.

Unfortunately, Jeremy's been burned by Crystal's type before. Or has he? Every time he thinks he knows her, the multi-faceted woman surprises him. Will the reluctant pair allow their hearts to guide them, or will their common stubborn pride keep them miles apart?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Reluctant Cowgirl, go HERE

Not far in but enjoying it as I have all Christine's books. Look for my review soon :)

She's In A Better Place by Angela Hunt


Jennifer Graham is struggling to make ends meet while running the Fairlawn Funeral Home, raising two children, and studying for her national board exam. Her work takes on a new dimension when Gerald Huffman, her assistant and mentor, reveals that he has a serious illness. When she learns that he and his daughter haven't spoken in years, Jen decides to help them reconcile . . . but things don't go exactly as she planned.

Jennifer is longing for stability in her life . . . but she soon discovers that life isn't stagnant; it's always changing. Once again, the mortuary is a setting for lessons of laughter, love, and life.

My take:~

Angela Hunt's tagline is Expect the Unexpected but when I pick up one of her books, what I expect is a stimulating and engaging read which will give my emotions a healthy workout. Angela "predictability" met my very high expectations of her writing talent in She's In A Better Place, the third and final instalment in her Fairlawn series!

With her consummate skill with the written word, Angela once again evokes a strong emotional connection between the reader and the characters in her story. Jennifer Graham's desire to reconnect her beloved mentor, Gerald Huffman, to his estranged daughter as he faces the fight of his life, is heartfelt, moving and brilliantly authentic. Real emotions, worries and fears imprint each character as life changes around them yet Angela intersperses their daily struggles with humour and moments of joy. A thread of romance and the poignant reminder that both life and death can be celebrated makes this story unforgettable and everything you expect an Angela Hunt novel to be, and more!

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Reviews of Doesn't She Look Natural and She Always Wore Red

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Sunday, 19 April 2009

Shepherd's Fall by Wanda Dyson

Nick Shepherd carries the weight of the world on his shoulders. Estranged from his sister, his fugitive recovery business spiralling into debt and his personal life in tatters, Nick wonders how can keep it all together.

A straightforward job for Nick and his Prodigal Recovery Agency suddenly gets complicated and ends in tragedy, leaving Nick questioning his vocation and purpose in life. As he struggles to adjust, a new contract to locate prostitute and addict, Zeena Bantham focuses his energy on what he is good at ~ tracking down criminals to bring them to justice.

Annie McNamara is desperate to find Zeena but for entirely different reasons and she joins forces with Nick to flush her out into the open. When Nick's work and personal life collide with the abduction of someone he loves, will this be the one recovery he fails to make?

Wanda Dyson mixes suspense, danger and a man at the crossroads of life in this riveting novel. Inheriting his father's fugitive recovery business with his younger siblings, Steven and Marti, Nick feels responsible to uphold his father's legacy but fails to see how his loyalty to that goal is impacting the lives of those he loves and it is around these issues that Wanda weaves Nick's faith battle. Without a doubt, the life of a bounty hunter makes for fasinating reading and while the action is fast and furious, most appealing about Shepherd's Fall is the authentic characterisation that stamps each person in this story. Nick is heroic in his career yet unable to hold his marriage together and is failing dismally to understand his teenage daughter and her needs. Nick's fellow bounty hunters, Rafe and Conner provide engaging banter and light hearted moments while the sibling rivalry and misunderstandings between Nick, Steven and Marti are pivotal to both the plot and exceptional character development. If I had to quibble, the ending is a little too neat but that will not stop me seeking out the rest of this unique and enthralling series.
Shepherd's Fall launches this trilogy with a cracking pace and lays a fascinating foundation for the following books focused on the other Shepherd siblings, Steven and Marti.

As seen at

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Visit Wanda's website

Buy Wanda's books at Amazon or Koorong

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